Glam Slam serves style at New York Fashion Week
With Glam Slam, performance wear doesn’t have to be conformance wear.

The intersection between fashion and tennis came to a crescendo at Glam Slam, the first joint endeavor of powerhouse agencies IMG Fashion, and Spring Studios.

IMG transformed the rooftop terrace of Spring Studios, a usually slate gray building situated in the middle of Tribeca, into a tennis lover’s oasis. The space was a profusion of bright blue, from the checkered mock tennis court to the velvet plush carpet laying underneath benches. Guests milled around taking pictures in front of the giant screen that overlooked the court and sipped on colorful cocktails as they waited for each panel to start.

Glam Slam spanned the course of five days and six sessions, featuring collaborations between tennis legends and fashion enthusiasts, complete with a DJ set programmed by Maison Kitsune. The final two sessions concluded with an invitation-only workout and panel with Venus Williams, as well as a grand finale conversation with Serena Williams about fashion and her brand, S by Serena.

The event wouldn’t have been complete without mention of Serena Williams’ recent retirement announcement. The second day of presentations was saturated with tennis stars including Maria Sharapova and Alexandra Stevenson, both of whom spoke fondly of Serena Williams.

“I remember when we would be on tour, we’d always hang out in each other’s hotel rooms and she would be drawing capes and what she’d want to wear,” Stevenson said. “We would have contests for who did better drawings and Serena always wanted a Wonder Woman outfit.”

In 2021, Serena Williams recreated a scene from the 2020 film “Wonder Woman 1984” for a DirecTV commercial, where she was clad head-to-toe in the signature costume. Serena Williams recognizes the power of donning a powerful outfit like Wonder Woman’s, and in tennis — one of the few sports where a player can choose what they wear —  the right uniform might just be a match point.

Cynthia Rowley understands this perfectly. Founder of STYLE OF SPORT Claudia Lebenthal affectionately referred to her as a “pioneer in athleisure.” Rowley headlined the second day of the presentations with a 15% off pop-up of her unreleased “All Sport” collection. Two racks sat nuzzled next to a large stand featuring Rowley’s accessories: pink and green camouflage-patterned sunglasses with dark frames, ombre bucket hats in shades of sunset, and trucker caps with mesh backs and neoprene fronts. The accessories were integrated with Glam Slam merchandise such as tennis balls, the essential branded pair of tennis socks and white visors with “Glam Slam” written in a neon font.

The collection represented a fresh chapter for Rowley whose taste for saltwater, mixed with an understanding of the need for effortlessness in clothing, culminated in her neoprene pieces. Each piece was almost a different form of a wetsuit. The effect was streamlined, but not quite minimal, with the strawberry flower design that consistently patterned the wetsuit leisurewear. Casual outfits like a patterned light pink long sleeve, a plain olive green sweatsuit set and flouncy miniskirt set would have been abundantly boring, if it weren’t for the fact that they could be worn anywhere from the waves of the annual Cynthia Rowley Surf Camps to just lounging in bed. Each garment, whether it was a cropped tee, a halter tank or a long sleeve sweatshirt, came with a matching bottom of flared pants, or spandex shorts and skirt in every color.

Rowley appeals to viewers with the unconventional, but her nod to functionality is consistent. She laughed with Stevenson and Lebenthal as she recounted one of her test runs for the collection.

“I thought that everybody looks great in our wetsuits, so, I was like, I’m going to make some dresses out of that and it’ll look so hot,” Rowley said. “So we made dresses out of neoprene, but the whole idea of neoprene is that it keeps you warm in cold water. I took it for a test run myself first and I had sweat running down the back of my leg, because it’s a functional fabric. That’s where you really have to understand certain properties of why things are functional and understand the way things are put together for that functionality. So, it doesn’t always work.”

“All Sport” appears to be neoprene, but a quick check of the tag reveals that the fabric is actually a blend of polyester and spandex. This kind of rework to achieve the desired results while still remaining functional is what kept Rowley as a trendsetter in athleisure for so many years.

Fashion has been snaking its way into the realm of tennis since designers like Rowley first started to collaborate with players, and the two fields will only continue to cross courts. Nothing stays the same in fashion, but one mantra consistently weaves itself somewhere between Rowley’s seams and Serena Williams’ rackets — we must enjoy our bodies while we’re still in them.


 Article originally published on Washington Square News. Courtesy photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG.

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